DCMA and fair use

A significant announcement by the US Library of Congress rules that jailbreaking phones and circumventing digital rights management (DRM) measures on DVDs, games and other digital media is legal for fair use purposes.  The decision was welcomed by the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) who have gathered an extensive collection of cases where the Digital Copyright Millennium Act (DCMA) has been (ab)used against fair use and consumer rights and legitimate educational, research and artistic activities.

Apple, whose notoriously Orwellian approach to stocking their AppStore has attracted frustration and ridicule in the past, and who were one of those  attempting to fight the change, responded by stating that jailbreaking would still void the warranty on their iphone, a stance which could lead to some interesting decisions in future.

While in practice educators and developers have generally seemed unconcerned about copyright issues when it comes to mashups and the use of extracts from digital media, perhaps as a result of coming from an academic background where fair use and quoting primary or secondary texts is not only accepted but required, it’s reassuring to see a more realistic attitude towards the practice.

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